Disease Mechanisms

An airborne agent of heart disease?

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Science  20 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6190, pp. 1355
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6190.1355-b

Kawasaki disease is the most common cause of acquired heart disease in children, but even now—40 years after its discovery—doctors still don't know its cause. Infectious and environmental agents are both possibilities. Rodó et al. compared daily Kawasaki disease case records in Japan with models of regional air trajectories. Spikes in disease incidence, they found, occurred when the wind blew from an agricultural region in northeastern China. Aerosol samples identified a high abundance of Candida, a fungus. Although the results are only a correlation, they support an existing model suggesting that genetically susceptible children may develop the disease when a windborne toxin or environmental agent triggers an aberrant immune response.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1400380111 (2014). Nat. Genet. 10.1038/ng.2982 (2014)

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